I have terrible vision.
I’m near sighted, so without contacts I can only clearly see two inches in front of my face. Beyond that objects and people are blurry beyond recognition.
My contact prescription is -7.5 in my left eye and -6.5 my right eye. If you wear contacts yourself, you know that’s pretty bad!
But I feel like my terrible vision isn’t exclusive to just my eyes.
Even though I’ve always been incredibly ambitious, I’m near sighted when it comes to my career too.
It’s not easy to admit, but I can only really see what’s a year in front of me.
And it’s not like you can just correct poor career path vision with prescription glasses.
Of course, I didn’t feel that way when I had my first crystal clear career “aha” moment.
I was in my junior year at college. At the time, I was interning at Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. My dream was simple: I wanted to work in the business side of comedy. With several meaty internships under my belt I was already on the fast track.
I was sitting in my mother’s living room, poking around the internet, as one does when trying to figure out what to do next.
Because when you achieve one goal, you immediately need another one to chase. It’s a never-ending cycle.
I started researching all of the talent agencies and looked for their internship programs.
I made a list of every single agency I wanted to apply to. And as I made that list, I saw my entire career unfold.
First, I’d be an intern. Then, after college I’d land a job in the mail room or as an assistant (which actually happened).
Then, after exactly three years, I’d get promoted to a coordinator position. Then I’d be a junior agent.
A few years after that, I’d actually have my own clients and even an office. My transformation from eager intern to #girlboss would be complete.
I loved having a ladder in front of me because all I had to do was climb it.
Ladders are straightforward like that. People like to organize life events in a linear way, making professional ladders absolutely perfect in our minds.
Of course, that plan didn’t exactly pan out.
I didn’t know it then, but by choosing a career path this way I threw myself into a bubble. The entertainment industry bubble. The talent agency bubble. It’s cramped in there.
Going through one open door closes others.
I didn’t once consider how this choice would restrict me so much from pursuing other passions. Regardless, I went full steam ahead and pursued that path for nearly two years after school.
I quit when I just about had my soul sucked out from working 9 am to 9 pm and weekends too.
Quitting put me through several emotional breakdowns and an identity crisis. But it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
For the first time in my life, if someone asked me “what do you want to be?” I just didn’t have an answer.
I used to always have an answer!
If you had asked me at age 16, I would have told you that I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic.
If you asked me at 17, I would have mentioned wanting to be a filmmaker.
At 18, I would have told you I wanted to write for SNL.
And at 20, I would have said talent agent.
Looking back, my career decisions have been based on a long process of elimination.
When I got to Elite Daily, I knew I wanted to become a writer there. I had no experience. I wasn’t really published anywhere else. But they gave me a shot.
Of course, after a few months I realized that being a full-time writer for an online publication also wasn’t for me. Just like I decided art, photography and being an agent weren’t for me.
I told a friend I wasn’t happy in my writer role and she immediately fired back, “but you wanted to be a writer!” And I said that I since I had no experience, I had no clue if I would like it or not… until I tried it.
Now I’m freelancing, and I’m going in all the directions I want to go.
I’m optimizing this process of elimination by doing everything that mildly interests me because I know it will lead me to the one thing I was meant to do — whatever that is.
I’m embracing my bad career vision. I’m focusing on what’s in front of me instead of straining to look ahead.
Isn’t a career just a series of jobs and/or roles within a specific industry anyway?
Unless you’re on a very specific track, like becoming a heart surgeon or professional athlete, it’s tough to pick your career before it happens.
Even a career as a talent agent doesn’t involve just being a talent agent. Because you have to have jobs before that. Some talent agents didn’t even work at an agency before becoming one. Some worked in the development department in TV networks. Others were lawyers.
Careers unfold in pieces.
Your direction, your career path, is going to change. In the moment, it’s not going to feel perfectly linear. But when you look back, you’ll be able to connect the dots. At least, that’s what I think will happen to me.